The Lutheran Orthodox Church, inc
CONSTITUTION AND BYLAWS OF THE LUTHERAN ORTHODOX CHURCH, INC
Adopted June 1st, in The Year of Our Lord, Two Thousand and Four
In the Name of The Father and of The Son and of The Holy Spirit
Let it be known that we, the undersigned, forming a new fellowship as a Christian Denomination in the historical Lutheran and Trinitarian traditions do hereby declare first and foremost that Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords and that we shall remain faithful to our living Savior even unto death. We hereby announce that we take the name The Lutheran Orthodox Church to be our denominational name which represents orthodox teachings of Dr Martin Luther insofar as his writings are consistant with Holy Scripture.
We the ministers of The Gospel, and laity, whose signatures are listed below, gather together this day at St Pauls Lutheran Orthodox Chapel located at 620 Main Street, Slatington, Pa, to form a new Synod of Lutheran Christians, to follow the commands of God and Christ, in proclaiming the Good News of The Christ to all who will hear, in the tradition of the Early Church, The Apostles, The Martyrs, all The Saints, The Reformers, and Martin Luther himself.
We do not believe that Martin Luther intended to leave the Holy Catholic Church but to correct certain things which he perceived to be in error in the Church of his day. We believe that the Catholic Church of 500 years ago is not the same as the Catholic Church of today, and that the Lutheran Church of history is not the same as the Lutheran Church of today. Therefore, in keeping with the guidance of The Scriptures, as interpreted by Martin Luther in his writings, we seek to return to orthodox Lutheran theology, and reject the man made dogmas which have crept into many Lutheran synods today.
Furthermore, the founding clergy of The Lutheran Orthodox Church have been invited to be consecrated into the valid Historic Apostolic Succession of The Church and have accepted, with a ceremony scheduled for July 11, 2004 in New York City by Bishops of The Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Church of Sweden, and others whereby the Founders of This Synod shall be consecrated into Apostolic Succession. All clergy of this Synod from that day hence shall be consecrated into The Valid Historic Apostolic Succession.The original book of valid Historic Apostolic Succession as bestowed upon the Founder and First Presiding Bishop shall be forever attached to this Constitution and all ministers of The Lutheran Orthodox Church shall be consecrated into these Apostolic Lineages.
May The Lord find favor upon us in this endeavor.
(Introduction adopted by vote on May 19th, in the Year of Our Lord 2014 and hereby added to the By Laws and Constitution.)
A commitment for walking together in The Lutheran Orthodox Church, as a Lutheran Rite Catholic Community
As a community of Christian brothers and sisters, it seems wise to us to establish a clear and concise Rule by which we will freely bind ourselves together under Christ and His Holy Scriptures. In so doing we do not add to, nor subtract from, the Word of God—nor do we propose that the rules of men be taught as the doctrine of God. However, since Christian communities are bound together by common cause and common love, for the sake of good order, we choose to walk together in a pattern of faith, hope, and love that honors our Lord and serves our neighbor in community. For this reason, our Rule is divided into three primary categories, according to the three great and abiding gifts the Spirit has left to Christ’s Church.
2. Of Faith—Our Common Confession
As an ecclesial fellowship of Orthodox Lutherans, our common confession of the faith, once for all delivered to the saints, arises from the inspired and inerrant canonical Holy Scriptures, above which there is no higher authority. As the Holy Scriptures have been breathed out by God, His Holy Spirit working through His holy Prophets and Apostles, and reflecting the glory of the Word Made Flesh, Jesus Christ, they are our only infallible rule of doctrine.
We also recognize the faithful witness to Christ and His Holy Scriptures, traced through the ages of the Church in the witness of great saints and martyrs, doctors and fathers of the Church. Where they agree with the Holy Scriptures, we honor and follow them. Where they err from the Holy Scriptures, we gently set them aside. In this way, we receive the writings of the Church Fathers, and of the Seven Ecumenical Councils.
We further recognize that faithful witness, in the writings of the Lutheran Reformers, particularly in the 1580 Book of Concord. Because they are a true witness to Christ and the Holy Scriptures, in harmony with the faithful witness of centuries past, we receive these writings among us as standards of catholic orthodoxy. They include: the Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds; the Unaltered Augsburg Confession of 1530 with its Apology; the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope; the Smalcald Articles; the Large and Small Catechisms of Martin Luther; the Epitome and Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord.
In this Christian, historic, catholic, evangelical, orthodox Lutheran confession, we bind ourselves to walk together under Christ and His Holy Word.
3. Of Hope—Our Common Grace
Bound together in a common confession of the faith, we bind ourselves together in a common hope, brought forth by the grace and promise of Christ. As individuals and as a fellowship, we recall the promise of God made manifest in the Cross of Christ: that Jesus has come to seek and to save the lost.
In this common hope and common grace, we recognize the great truth Martin Luther brought forth from the Apostle Paul, that every Christian is at the same time both Saint and Sinner. By our common nature inherited from our parents, we are sinful creatures, inclined toward evil passions, desires, and actions. By our common rebirth from above by Water and Spirit, we also have a new nature given by the Holy Spirit, grafting us into the Vine of Christ, which resists the evil nature and struggles in faith toward holiness. In our dual natures, we are in constant need of the preaching of both Law and Gospel, which shows us our sin and reveals to us our Savior. We also live out this hope in the traditional Sacramental life of the Church:
The Sacrament of Salvation, given by Christ, with the promise that all who believe and are baptized, will be saved. (Mark 16, Matthew 28, Augustana IX, Small Catechism)
The Lord’s Supper, given to us by Christ, with the promise that it is indeed His true Body and Blood, given and shed for us, for the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. (Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, John 6, I Corinthians 11, Augustana X, XXII, XIV, Small Catechism)
Holy Confession and Absolution
The power to forgive sins, given to the Church by Christ and exercised by the pastors to whom the Office of the Keys is given, with the promise that whoever repents and believes will hear the Absolution as from the very lips of Christ Himself. (Matthew 16, John 20, Augustana XI, XII, XXV, Small Catechism)
The pastoral Office of the Keys, given to the Church by Christ, for the proclamation of the Word of God in both Law and Gospel, and the administration of the Sacraments according to Christ’s command. Historically, this office in the Church has been exercised in the specific orders of Deacons, Priests or Presbyters, and Bishops. (Matthew 28, Mark 16, John 20, Acts 1-6, 1st and 2nd Timothy, Titus, Augustana XIV, XV, XXIII, XXVIII)
Marriage, given to mankind by God in the Garden at Creation, is the lifelong union of one man and one woman, for procreation of, and care for, children. It is the mystery that God gives which continues the human race, as He exercises His continuing divine power of creation through mothers and fathers. St. Paul also refers to Christian marriage as a mystery which foreshadows the relationship of Christ and the Church. (Genesis1-2, Ephesians 5)
Holy Confirmation or Chrismation
Jesus told His disciples, that if you confess Me before men, I will confess you before My Father in heaven—but if you deny Me before men, I will deny you before My Father in heaven. The public confession of faith, and confirmation of that faith in the Church, is retained with proper catechesis and instruction in the faith, once for all delivered to the saints. (Matthew 10, Romans 10)
Holy Unction, or Anointing with Oil
The gift of Christ given to the Church by His Word, that we are to pray for one another, particularly when our brothers or sisters are in distress or need. St. James tells us that we are to bring the sick to the elders (presbyters) of the Church, that hands may be laid on them, they may be anointed with oil, and that God working through the prayers of the faithful may heal the sick according to His will. (Acts, James 5)
As sinner saints, saved by grace through faith in Christ alone, we bind ourselves together in the Lord’s Word and Sacraments, recognizing our common sinfulness and our common grace, suffering with each other’s failures, and calling each other to be holy, as our Saving Lord is holy.
4. Of Love—Our Common Walk
Knowing that our Lord has called us to unity, and to take up our cross to follow Him, we hear also these apostolic truths: that of the three great and abiding gifts of the Spirit to the Church, the greatest is love; and that love covers a multitude of sins. It is divine love that caused the Father to send His Son to die for the sins of the world; divine Love that held Jesus to His Cross; divine Love that raised Jesus again from the dead; divine Love that sends the grace, mercy, and forgiveness of Christ out into the world through His Holy Gospel; divine Love that keeps the saints of God even unto eternal life. It is this divine Love that we are called to reflect to one another.
In fraternal love that reflects divine Love, we bind ourselves together: to suffer the weaknesses of our brothers and sisters in patience and compassion; to prefer to be wronged, rather than to pursue vengeance; to seek our neighbor’s good, and protect them from evil;
to build our neighbor’s reputation, and protect them from slander; to respect the authority and gifts of those called into all offices of the Church (bishops, priests, deacons, and laity,) and protect them from abuse, division, undermining, or defamation;
to pray for one another without ceasing; to use our gifts and resources to help our neighbors in need;
to outdo one another in giving honor, preferring humility and resisting pride;
to resolve conflicts in Christian charity according to the example of Holy Scripture, resisting any temptation to schism or division;
to see in every Christian marked by Faith and Repentance under Christ and His Holy Scriptures a brother or sister indeed, regardless of earthly affiliations, bound together with us in One Baptism, with One Lord, and One saving Faith;
to see the world through the eyes of Jesus, who comes to seek and to save, sending us to carry His life-giving Gospel to every creature;
to maintain the bonds of affection in the unity of peace.
5. Our Pledge
This is our Rule, and the way we freely bind ourselves together, for the sake of a firm confession of Christ and His Holy Word, of the harmony and fellowship of the saints in this community, and for the sake of Christ’s mission to the world. May God bless us with fidelity and grace, to complete what we are unable to do, living out our lives in Jesus our Savior, marked by Faith, Hope, and Love.
(Here ends the addition of May 19th 2014)
By Laws and Constitution (adopted as written June 1, 2004 Amended Oct 20, 2015)
1: The name of this church corporation shall be The Lutheran Orthodox Church inc with it's main physical corporate location at St Pauls Lutheran Orthodox Chapel, ********, Slatington, Pa, 18080 and the mailing address shall be PO Box 74, Neffs, Pa, 18065. The headquarters may be relocated by The Presiding Bishop at his discretion with approval of the Board of Directors, and shall re-register with the proper secular authorities as necessary according to the laws of The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
2: The Lutheran Orthodox Church shall be the successor of The Evangelical Protestant Church, GCEPC, inc, a duly registered corporation in The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, incorporated by Samuel Guido and located at the same address as mentioned in paragraph 1. The Lutheran Orthodox Church shall register the new corporate name with the Commonwealth of Pa by filing the appropriate name change paperwork with the Secretary of State, Corporations Bureau in Harrisburg, Pa in accordance with all applicable laws. The corporate entity number shall remain the same as on file with the Secretary of State of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Corporations Bureau and no new corporation is formed, but rather name changed.
3: The Lutheran Orthodox Church, inc shall retain the history of The Evangelical Protestant Church and recognize the EPC as it's mother church dating back to the early days of The Reformation in Germany and other parts of Europe. The immediate Past Presiding Bishop of The LEPC, Bishop Samuel Guido,whose term officially ends on July 1st, 2004 as PB of The LEPC, and now the incorporator of this ecclesiastical body,to be known as The Lutheran Orthodox Church shall assume the Office of Presiding Bishop of The Lutheran Orthodox Church. He shall have the authority to appoint the Bishops and Executive Officers as needed for the establishment of these positions.
4: Retaining the historical records as the true direct successor to The Evangelical Protestant Church, GCEPC, inc and the LEPC, The Lutheran Orthodox Church shall retain its interest in the aforementioned ecclesiastical bodies.
5: The Lutheran Orthodox Church as an Ecclesiastical Body believes that The Church belongs to Almighty God and not the state. The Lutheran Orthodox Church shall incorporate as a non-profit, non-stock corporation but shall not seek Internal Revenue Service rule 501(c)3 tax exemption status which would severly limit the freeness of speech our ministers enjoy. The LOC recognizes as sufficient the IRS's own rules which automatically recognizes churches as tax exempt without the need for filing under 501(c)3.
1: The Lutheran Orthodox Church, inc shall be a Lutheran Church in the traditional sense of the Christian church, recognizing Martin Luther as the original founding father of the group of Christian churches which now call themselves Lutheran , and ascribing the Lutheran Confessions and the writings of Martin Luther as a correct interpretation of our faith provided that those writings are in full accordance with Holy Scripture.
2: If the writings of Martin Luther are found to contradict Holy Scripture, The Scriptures shall supercede always and be the final authority in all matters.
3: The mission of The Lutheran Orthodox Church shall be to spread The Gospel, bring others to Christ, comfort the downtrodden, teach others about the Kingdom of God and follow in the footsteps of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, obeying all the things He commanded us to do.
4: The Lutheran Orthodox Church shall have the authority to ordain ministers, consecrate Bishops, establish congregations, build Dioceses and engage in all activities of ministry and business particular to any Christian denomination; and its ministers shall have the authority to administer the sacraments, conduct funerals, perform weddings and baptisms, and any other duties particular to ministers of The Gospel in accordance with Holy Scripture.
5: The Lutheran Orthodox Church shall be able to enter into Full Communion and Pulpit and Altar Fellowship with any church body sharing similar beliefs and practices and the Lutheran Orthodox Church shall be able to rescind any Full Communion agreements made between itself and any other denomination or fellowship with or without cause.
6: A : The Lutheran Orthodox Church shall abide by secular laws to the fullest, except where secular laws violate God's laws as established by Holy Scripture. If secular law contradicts Scriptural laws, The Lutheran Orthodox Church shall abide by Scriptural laws.
B: No minister or clergy person of the Lutheran Orthodox Church may solemnize, bless, participate in, conduct, [or] otherwise attempt to legitimate a homosexual, transgender, or multiple partner marriage. Violation of this provision may lead to immediate excommunication."
6 B Note: Signed and Amended this 26th Day of June 2015
subsection A Governing of The Lutheran Orthodox Church, inc
1: The LOC shall be governed by two bodies: The Council of Bishops and The Executive Officers.
2: The Executive Officers (Board of Directors) shall consist of President, Executive Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer, as well as any number of vice presidents serving in any capacity the President may deem necessary. The Board of Directors shall oversee all functions of the administration of the corporation and ultimately oversee the Council of Bishops and Corporate Officers with all due deference to the Presiding Bishop/President. These officers shall handle the secular affairs of the corporation such as but not limited to signing leases, purchasing materials and property, banking, and other duties consistant with the generally accepted functions of officers of any other church or secular corporation. No salaries shall be paid to any officer of the corporation but requests may be made for reimbursement of customary and normal expenses. (Amended Oct 20, 2015)
3: The Executive Vice President shall assume the office of President of The LOC inc should the President of the LOC become incapacitated or die during his term in office until such time as the Council of Bishops can convene and choose a successor, with proper emphasis and consideration of the Executive VP.
4: The President of The LOC shall also serve as Presiding Bishop of The LOC.
5: The President may dismiss any executive officer, employee or auxilary personel with or without cause and replace that person at will.
1: The LOC shall also be governed by a Council Of Bishops. The Council Of Bishops shall handle the spiritual affairs of The Lutheran Orthodox Church such as but not limited to issues of a theological nature, recommendations to the Presiding Bishop on spiritual issues, discussing all matters of church issues not covered by the executive officers.
2: The Council of Bishops shall be made up of a minimum of 12 Bishops and the Presiding Bishop. The Presiding Bishop appoints Bishops to The Council of Bishops. The number of Bishops may be changed as needed according to the growth of this synod and does not have to be limited to 12 but must have a minimum of 12. Those appointed to sit on the Council of Bishops may use the title Archbishop and have a full voting seat on the Council. The appointment to the office of Bishop shall be for life* (unless dismissed for conduct unbecoming a Christian) and not for a set period of time. A member of The Council of Bishops may be removed from office for conduct unbecoming a Christian as determined by either a judicial committee established by The Presiding Bishop or by the Presiding Bishop directly in the event of serious wrongdoing which would nesessitate immediate action before a committee can convene. The Presiding Bishop must then within 72 hours inform the Council of his actions and allow discussions by the Council for final disposition.
3: The Office of Presiding Bishop shall be for a term of 5 years, and elected by majority vote of the Council of Bishops. The Founder and Incorporator of The Lutheran orthodox Church shall be the first Presiding Bishop. * Note: The first Presiding Bishop was appointed for life in 2004. It was decided upon his retirement in Nov, 2015 to make the office of Presiding Bishop a 5 year elected position beginning Nov 14 2015, with the first 'elected' Presiding Bishop being elected by consent of the Board of Directors and taking office Nov 14th, 2015. Subsequent elections for Presiding Bishop shall be held Nov 1st, beginning in the year 2020, with a newly elected Presiding Bishop assuming office on Jan 1st, 2021, with elections every 5 years henceforth, and elections shall be held on Nov 1st.The Presiding Bishop/President may seek re-election in any 5 year election cycle. There are no term limits. (Amended Oct 20, 2015)
(Succession of Presiding Bishop)
1: The Presiding Bishop shall also serve as president of The LOC. In the event of the retirement, incapacitation or death of The Presiding Bishop, the Executive VP shall become the interim President and Presiding Bishop until such time as the Council of Bishops can meet either in person or via internet and discuss and choose a successor. A simple majority vote of all Council of Bishops shall be deemed sufficient to choose a successor. If a majority vote cannot be met, after 5 votes, on 5 successive days, the interim president/ Presiding Bishop shall automatically be installed as permanent Presiding Bishop and President with an election for the office held as scheduled, at the conclusion of the 5 year term as if there was no vacancy. (every 5 years from 2015 forward)
2: The Presiding Bishop may be removed from office for conduct unbecoming a Christian as determined by a judicial committee consisting of 3 randomly selected Bishops chosen by The Board of Directors, who report their findings to the entire Council of Bishops, and to all the Executive Officers of the corporation or their designees. The vote to remove a Presiding Bishop must be unanimous by all members of the Council of Bishops (except the Presiding Bishop) and by all Executive Officers, (except the President).
3. The Presiding Bishop/President may be removed by direct action of The Board only in the event of gross negligence or serious wrongdoing or conduct unbecoming a Christian, and the action must be reported to the entire Board of Directors and Council of Bishops within 72 hours. The decision to terminate the Presiding Bishop by the Board may be overridden by a 2/3 vote of the Council of Bishops within 1 week of reporting to the Council of such action. (added Oct 20, 2015)
4: Any terminations of any member may be directly appealed to any of the executive officers and due consideration shall be afforded to all requests for reinstatement. The Board of Directors shall be the appeals council and all appeals must be approved unanimously for a reversal of the termination except as provided as above under the authority of the Council of Bishops. (added Oct 20, 2015)
The Lutheran Orthodox Church shall have as clergy the following: Archbishops, as described above. Bishops, who serve large areas or regions, or who shall be appointed to offices of special service by The Presiding Bishop. Priests, who may use the title Reverend, Father, Pastor or other customary title and serve a parish or engage in a ministry which directly serves the public. Deacons or Deaconess' who work directly under a Bishop or Pastor but have not yet qualified for ordination.Ministers may transfer from other churches which the Lutheran Orthodox Church deems to be either in Full Communion, or in valid Apostolic Succession or any other church this ecclesiastical body recognizes, but shall also submit an application prior to approval by the Presiding Bishop or Council for transfer. All clergy serve the Lutheran Orthodox Church as volunteers and no salary shall be paid to any clergy of The LOC except that a local congregation may pay a pastor for services rendered on terms mutually agreeable between the local congregation and the pastor.
1: All applicants for clergy shall submit an application to the LOC Headquarters and shall follow the instructions given with the application. It shall be at the discretion of the local or Presiding Bishop if a person is eligible to be consecrated and official approval shall be sent to the local Bishop under whose jursidiction the applicant shall be under.
2: Bishops shall be appointed by The Presiding Bishop or upon recommendation of The Council of Bishops made to the Presiding Bishop with his approval.
3: Clergy of The Lutheran Orthodox Church may be either male or female without any hinderence based on gender, or race or social status.
4: Deacons may be appointed by any clergy of higher rank to serve and train directly with the appointing clergy. Deacons shall be afforded all privileges of clergy except that a Deacon shall not be able to perform wedding ceremonies unless a waiver is given by The Presiding Bishop.
5: Clergy may wear the customary clerical dress such as collar, chasable, full vestments or other clothing customary to Christian clergy. Clergy may also opt not to wear the customary clerical vestments but may dress in proper suit and tie, conservative dress (females) or other clothing deemed proper and suitable for ministers of the Gospel. It shall not be mandatory that those conducting or leading worship service or engaged in ministry wear clerical collar or other garb, but the minister shall be properly and suitably dressed for the service he is engaged in with all due consideration and respect for the circumstances and local customs.
6: Practicing homosexuals may not be ordained into the Christian ministry of the Lutheran Orthodox Church.
7: Heterosexual individuals, male and female, living together without being married or those otherwise engaged in sexual relations outside of the bounds of marriage may not be ordained into the Christian ministry of The Lutheran Orthodox Church. Heads of Households who seek ordination into the LOC and allow this type of conduct under their roof may also not be permitted to be ordained into the ministry of The LOC.
7B: Any individual convicted of any crime of a sexual nature shall be permanently barred from ordination into the ministry of The LOC.
8: All approved ordination ceremonies shall be performed in person, at St Pauls Lutheran Orthodox Chapel, Slatington Pa unless assigned to a local Bishop by The Presiding Bishop. All credentials must come from LOC Headquarters with the signature of the Presiding Bishop or his designee regardless of who performs the ceremony.
9: The Lutheran Orthodox Church shall assume no legal responsibility for the actions of any clergy member.
10: Any credentials issued to LOC clergy can be revoked for conduct unbecoming a Christian by either The Presiding Bishop or by Judicial Committee. ( See also Section 3 subsection 3 for more information regarding removal and reinstatement)
11: A clergy person of the LOC may resign by a simple letter stating that he or she wishes to resign his or her position as a member clergy of the LOC.
Educational requirements for all clergy of The Lutheran Orthodox Church
1: Although formal seminary training is most beneficial and encouraged, it shall not necessarily be a prerequisite for otherwise qualified persons to apply for ministerial credentials with this ecclesiastical body. Provided that an applicant be of qood character with adequate verifiable references and an active, ongoing ministry acceptable to the Presiding Bishop or majority vote of the Council of Bishops, and sends in an otherwise acceptable application, the lack of formal seminary training may be overlooked, provided that the candidate is in all other aspects suitable for the ministry.
2: Lacking an adequate seminary background, and being deficient in training, a candidate may be considered for the office of Deacon and trained directly by a Bishop or Pastor for a minimum of 2 years or until such time as the overseeing clergy deems the candidate as suitably trained for pastoral ministry. The candidate shall then submit to examination by the Presiding Bishop or his designee.
3: A candidate who submits bogus educational credentials or false ordination credentials shall be rejected or in the event the person was ordained by the LOC, he or she shall be dismissed at the discretion of the Presiding Bishop or 2/3 vote of the Council of Bishops.
1: Congregations registered with the LOC shall remain congregational in polity and may call an ordained LOC minister as its pastor, paying the pastor whatever agreeable terms decided between the two parties.
2:The Lutheran Orthodox Church shall recognize a congregation as being 2 or more people plus a pastor.
3: Congregations smaller than 2 plus a pastor shall be recognized as a ministry.
4: The congregation may choose to meet in any location suitable for Christian worship but shall notify the LOC headquarters of its primary location of worship.
5: A formal Charter shall be issued to each registered congregation identifying it as a member of The Lutheran Orthodox Church.
6: The LOC assumes no legal responsibility for any congregation affiliated with the LOC.
7: A congregation may withdraw its membership with the LOC by a vote of a majority of its members and a simple letter stating that it chooses to be released from the Lutheran Orthodox Church. The congregation shall retain whatever property it owns and the LOC shall recover its own property if any that the congregation is using. The LOC may revoke a congregation's charter for any reason with or without cause.
8: Worship services shall be decided by the local congregation as to form, style and manner provided that it is sound and Scripturally based and supported. The congregation shall submit to the LOC an outline of the service it intends to use.
Holy Orders, Ministries, and Other Para-Church Organizations Within The LOC
Statement on the Relationship Between Orders, Societies, and Dioceses
Addendum18 December, 2015
1) The Lutheran Orthodox Church is a fellowship—of persons, ministries, missions, chaplaincies, congregations, religious orders, and more. In our common life together, we have chosen to walk according to the ancient canons, customs, and councils of the Church, always with Christ and His Word at our center, our foundation, our Head, and our fullness. In this way our diversity is unified in Christ and His Word, and we all commit to maintaining this baptismal unity in the bonds of peace and charity.
2) The icon of this unity in any given geographic area is the local diocesan bishop. His cross and his burden is to reflect Christ and His Word to all under his care, as the Apostles and Christ Himself give instruction. Those gathered under the care and protection of the local diocesan bishop, have the duty to humbly receive him as the servant of Christ, supporting him in his ministry of oversight and service.
3) Religious Orders and Societies have a unique history in the life of the Church, and often exist within multiple dioceses, bringing their gifts of ministry, study, formation, spirituality, and mission everywhere they go. As the LOC develops more societies, chaplaincies, and orders, it is important to have clear boundaries between what falls under the auspices of these societies, versus the care of specific diocesan bishops, so that the bonds of peace and affection are not strained or broken.
4) To that end, the following path is given: All societies, orders, chaplaincies, etc., of the Lutheran Orthodox Church, by membership therein, confess the same doctrine, and agree to abide by the same Rule of life together as found in our Constitution and By-laws.
5) No ministry shall be conducted in a local diocese by any LOC society, order, chaplaincy, etc., without coordination and unity with the local diocesan bishop.
6) No diocesan bishop shall presume to order or interfere with the internal life, practice, and piety of an LOC society, order, chaplaincy, etc., without coordination and unity with the respective ministry’s duly installed leadership (their Abbot, Abbess, Ordinary, Chapter Dean, etc.)
7) Where issues of conflict may arise between members of any LOC society, order, chaplaincy, etc., and a local diocesan bishop, all shall have right to appeal their disagreement to the Presiding Bishop and the House of Bishops, whose joint determination on resolution shall be considered final by all parties in conflict.
Note to Section 5B: While we do not anticipate issues of conflict arising between our regular diocesan bishops and the various societies, orders, chaplaincies, etc., which are chartered to proclaim the Word of Christ to the whole world, we recognize that in a sinful and fallen world, conflict may someday arise.
May the Holy Spirit who has given us new life by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, lead us ever and always to the peace which is beyond all understanding, and the living out of the unbreakable fellowship of all the saints united together in Christ our Risen Lord. Amen.
Added according to the By laws by Executive Order of The Rev. Dr. Brad Varvil
The Lutheran Orthodox Church
No Objections were offered, therefore, Amendment is placed into the By laws Dec 18th 2015
1: The Lutheran Orthodox Church shall never request a fee for any service related to the ministry and no clergy member may ask for or solicit pastoral services for a fee or payment. The following is the only exception:
A): A congregation may call, and a pastor may accept a paid position with a congregation and may negotiate terms suitable to both entities relating to the clergy's salary and benefits. The LOC shall have no direct interest in the terms negotiated between pastor and congregation, and all taxes shall be the responsibilities of the two negotiating parties.
B): An LOC minister may accept payment for speaking engagements where it is customary for an organization to pay for guest speakers.
2: The LOC shall never take a collection or require dues or tithes paid by members, congregations, clergy or any persons or entities which are served by the Lutheran Orthodox Church. The following are the only exceptions:
A): Congregations may take a collection from their members to pay for their resonable and customary expenses, and no report shall be required to be sent to LOC offices.
B): The Lutheran Orthodox Church may establish a fund for the offsetting of expenses or for issues such as disaster relief, or for the benefit of an LOC member or others who may be in need of funds due to disasters, illness and the like, or for the purchasing of pastoral care items such as books, etc...which would benefit the association at large, and these shall be at the discretion of The Council of Bishops and/or The Presiding Bishop. It shall never be required that any person pay into any established fund. All contributions shall be made on a voluntary basis only and at no time shall the payment of any fees be required from any member of the LOC to any fund established.
C): A clergy member of the LOC may accept a donation for his services provided that the contribution was spontaneous and given freely by someone, and not because it was asked for by the clergy person.
3: The President, Executive VP, Secretary, Chairman and Treasurer shall have the authority to make deposits, and conduct the monetary affairs of the church. An annual report may be provided to the entire denomination at large if there is anything to report. Since the LOC does not solicit for funds, it shall not be unusual that no report shall be issued. If contributions in excess of $10,000 are received in a calandar year, it shall be reported to the membership in an annual report within 2 months of the end of the calandar year.
General Business:The Fiscal Year for conducting business in the Lutheran Orthodox Church shall be Jan 1st thru Dec 31st. An annual meeting of Corporate Officers shall be held the last week of each calandar year.
1: This Constitution shall serve as a guide for conducting the affairs of The Lutheran Orthodox Church. Ammendments may be made by a 2/3 majority vote of the Council Of Bishops. Additions may be made by either 2/3 majority vote of The CoB or by the Presiding Bishop directly, provided that he notify the CoB prior to making additions. A 2/3 majority vote of the CoB may reject any additions made directly by the Presiding Bishop and stricken from this Constitution. This vote must be held within one month of the addition of any ammendment to this Constution or it shall remain in effect.
2: The Statement of Faith and Core Beliefs shall be attached to the application for membership and all clergy and congregations wishing to affiliate with the Lutheran Orthodox Church must agree and adhere to those beliefs. A copy of those Core Beliefs and Statement of Faith are herein attached to this Constitution.
3: Membership (laity, non clergy) shall be opened to all persons who are Christian or who desire to become Christian, and recognize themselves as members of The Lutheran Orthodox Church. They shall agree with the LOC Statement of Faith and Core Beliefs, and conduct themselves in a Christian manner in all matters, public and private.
4: Communion shall be available to all baptized members and non members and the clergy of The Lutheran Orthodox Church may give communion to any who voluntarily request it. The LOC does not practice 'closed communion'.
B): All LOC clergy may perform all services of pastoral care to anyone, regardless of the membership status in the Lutheran Orthodox Church of those seeking pastoral care. Clergy of The LOC may provide pastoral care to non-LOC individuals or organizations.
5: The Lutheran Orthodox Church shall not make it a practice to proselytize for members from among the membership of other recognized Lutheran denominations.
Adopted, Signed and Delivered to The Congregations this 1st Day of June, in The Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Four at Slatington, Pennsylvania, USA
This Constitution and By Law represents the original signed document as presented and voted on at St Pauls Lutheran Orthodox Chapel, Slatington, Pennsylvania June 1,2004. The previously posted ByLaws and Constitution with ammendments was rescinded due to a technical violation of Section 7 paragraph 1, notification to Council of Bishops of Addition in timely manner. All additions between Jan 2005 and Jan 2012 are stricken. Amendments dated between Feb 2012 and Oct 20, 2015 are recognized.